What does the new law on right to rent mean for landlords?
The Immigration Act 2014 introduced a new legal requirement on private landlords in England to carry out immigration checks on all new prospective tenants from February 2016. The new law applies to residential agreements including tenancies, leases of less than 7 years, licences and sub-tenancies or sub-leases.
British citizens, EEA nationals and Swiss nationals are all relevant nationals that can rent accommodation BUT must show evidence that they are relevant nationals. Anyone who is not a relevant national BUT has been granted a visa to enter or remain in the UK has a right to rent accommodation.
What does this mean for landlords?
It is important that landlords carry out checks on all the adults over the age of 18 who will be living in their properties and take steps to ensure that all adult tenants will live in their property as their only or main home.The right to rent obligation only apply to new tenancies from 1st February 2016.
The 3 golden rules are (a) Obtain original documents from the tenant showing they have the right to rent. (b) Check that the documents are valid with the tenant present and (c) make Copies of the original documents and record the date you made the checks.
Landlords should be aware that:
- There are monetary penalties of up to £3,000 for non-compliance based upon each illegal migrant being housed.
- Enforcement measures are now active. This means that if they are found to be in breach, they are automatically considered as committed an offence on notice from the Home Office.
- They can be sentence to up to 5 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
- They are obligated to keep track of their tenant’s leave to remain.
- They can pass their obligation to carry out right to rent to an agent but this must be done in a written agreement clearly stating that the agent takes full legal responsibility for carrying out the checks and any penalty.
- There is a legal responsibility to meet tenants face to face or via a medium such as Skype.
What does this mean for tenants:
Tenants may find that their landlord can terminate their tenancy agreement by:
- Mutual agreement.
- Serving notice upon the tenant in accordance with usual procedure for that tenancy.
- Following eviction routes for disqualified people in England.
Tenants may also find that if they are caught, they will be arrested and would likely be removed/deported from the UK.
Who has the Right to Rent?
- Those who are subject to pre- entry control, more commonly known as a visa with leave to enter incorporated.
- Those with permission to enter into the UK granted to non-visa nationals visiting the UK.
- Those with leave to remain in the UK usually granted in-country to those with existing leave.
- Those with a time limited leave (to enter or remain), granted for a certain period with a specified expiry date.
- Those with unlimited leave that has no expiry date but can be lost if conditions are not met.
If you would like advice on how the Act might affect you, or how to conduct a right to rent check to avoid hefty penalties, please contact us.